Though the claim that "Barcelona makes Messi better than he actually is" is frequently dismissed as simply the talk of Messi-haters, there is a lot to back up the claim.
Practically every weakness of Messi outlined in this article—and even most weaknesses not outlined in this article—are weaknesses which are minimized by Barcelona, its players, and playing style.
Messi does not need to be great at long free kicks at Barcelona because Xavi generally takes them. He does not need to be great at long shots because Barcelona's tiki-taka playing style is designed to get the offense as close to goal as possible and to generate many close range scoring opportunities.
Messi does not need to be tactically flexible because the team has been built to accommodate him as a No. 9—and at present there is arguably sufficient depth in every other position (except maybe at center-back). His heading is not an issue either, as Barca rarely cross the ball.
Finally, as explained in the article, Barca are already loaded with so many experienced professionals and leaders that Messi's somewhat reserved nature and lack of leadership is hardly a problem.
When Messi plays with Argentina however, most of these flaws are made apparent. Messi's heading is still not truly needed with Argentina either, since he doesn't play as a center-forward with Argentina, but it definitely acts as barrier, preventing Messi from being selected as a No. 9 for the national team.
Regardless though, Messi is still my pick for the best player in the world. He isn't as physically imposing or powerful as Cristiano Ronaldo, but he definitely maximizes the benefits his small body size gives him, such as improved balance and quickness.
Still, he definitely does have some questions to answer with his national team, and we'll get to see how his team and Ronaldo's team currently stack up against each other this weekend.
What do you think? What are Messi's biggest weaknesses in your opinion, and how can he work on them?
An interesting question to ponder: If Messi and Ronaldo were to maximize their potential, and reach the very peak of their abilities, who do you think would be better as an individual player (and not as part of a system)?
Make your opinion known in the comments section below.